Volcanoes

Rising up out of the Pacific at the north-western edge of the ring of fire, subducting plates under Japan cause breathtaking volcanic peaks to break through nearly the full length of the archipelago, from Hokkaido's Showa-Shinzan mountain, which sprang up out of a field beside a larger volcano in 1944, to Kyushu's "land of fire" with the conical volcano Mount Aso at its heart.

Mount Fuji is undoubtedly Japan's most famous volcano, and the nearly perfectly symmetrical cone is an iconic symbol of Japan. It is hard to believe that something so perfectly symmetrical was created through explosive destruction and chaos.

Mount Fuji last erupted three hundred years ago, and is now considered dormant - though the geothermic power of the volcano can be felt in nearby Hakone's pleasantly warm hot springs. Active volcanoes can be visited in Hokkaido, where they form the focus of many of the island's national parks, as well as - and perhaps most memorably - at the stunning Mount Aso in Kyushu.

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